Save the Pine Bush Heard in Appeals Court Over Crossgates Expansion – March 23, 2021
From the Altamont Enterprise:
“Save the Pine Bush filed its suit in November 2020 based on the Guilderland Planning Board’s adoption of a findings statement for Pyramid’s proposed 222-unit residential development and Costco Wholesale store in addition to the site-plan approval given to the company’s apartment and townhome development — an approval that was given based on the findings statement.
Save the Pine Bush alleged, among other things, the Guilderland Planning Board:
— Failed to take a “hard look” at the impact the project would have on “certain threatened or endangered species or species of special concern,” for example, the Karner blue butterfly, four types of bats, and a worm snake.
The planning board failed to consider the impact the project would have on two types of grass and on an ostrich fern.
Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber, a lawyer who was arguing on behalf of the town on Wednesday, speaking to the grass and fern said, “ This is a level of review that is simply not required. We look at the most relevant, significant impacts, [and] they were identified very early in the process”;
— Failed to conduct a complete survey to assess for: the impact of pesticides and traffic, wetland presence, and the project’s impact on climate change and air quality;
— Failed to address the criticisms that followed publication of the draft environmental impact statement;
— “Included empirically false and unsupported assertions regarding the Albany Pine Bush ecosystem in the FEIS”; and
— “Improperly made determinations on the development projects despite not having the sufficient members required by law.”
We encourage you go out and pick up a copy of the full article at your local news stand, or subscribe online to read the Altamont Enterprise’s coverage of the Crossgates Apartments. Additionally, this article is archived on our website, for your reference.
Disappointing news about the Crossgates Rapp Road Housing – Costco Case – October 8, 2021
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has held that the Hart decision is dispositive, and our SEQRA claims need not be heard, despite our concerns being different and focusing on the ecological impacts to the Albany Pine Bush.
We will be discussing the next steps forward in the coming weeks.
No Costco Gas Station on ZBA Agenda for September 1st
Looking at the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting for this coming Wednesday, Costco does not appear on the agenda (please – double-check me!):
The next ZBA meeting appears to be October 6.
We have more time to deal with the 18 gas pumps that is proposed for Costco.
Does anyone have time to contact the ZBA to ask them where Costco is in their application process?
Lynne Jackson speak on Focus on Albany about Guilderland Developers – August 23, 2021
Save the Pine Bush is fighting Guilderland Developments, in words of Ms. Jackson, there are “numerous developments are coming fast and furious in Pine Bush in the Town of Guilderland.”
Speak Out Against Large, Climate-Cooking Costco Gas Station on the Pine Bush Sole Source Aquifer on September 1st
– August 16, 2021
Hot off the presses! Zoning Board of Appeals to decide if local climate policy is meaningless on September 1st
Plan for pine bush expansion with Costco includes a gigantic gas station. Sine the project is in a climate friendly transit oriented district, no gas stations can be built there. If we do not insist local climate law must be obeyed, even when the largest mall owner in the northeast United States would prefer an exemption, there could be a negative precedent set for the Climate. Get ready to rumble. Guilderland Town Hall. Meeting postponed.
Lynne Jackson talks to Mark Dunlea of Hudson Mohawk Radio Network on the Crossgates Expansion – July 21, 2021
Crossgates Mall is seeking to expand further into the Pine Bush to build a COSTCO store, an apartment complex and an office park. The Appellate Division on July 8 overturned a lower court decision that found that the Town of Guilderland’s Planning Board had failed to conduct an adequate environmental review. Lynne Jackson of Save the Pine Bush provides an update, including on a second lawsuit that the group has filed. With Mark Dunlea for Hudson Mohawk Radio Network.
Where things stand on the Crossgates Development – July 13, 2021
Some of you are wondering what is “up” with the Costco Project in the wake of the Appeals Court overturning Judge Lynch’s decision at the Supreme Court level. Save the Pine Bush filed suit in November 2020. Our suit was poised to go forward in case this happened. We are waiting for the Court to response.
Meanwhile, Pyramid must go before the Zoning Board of Appeals to explain how they want to get a gas station zoned in a TODD(Transit Oriented District Designation) where gas stations can’t be zoned. This is an important precedent: Will the ZBA uphold climate law? Everybody will have to come out for this one!
Additionally, Pyramid does not own the Guilderland streets that inconveniently run through the neighborhood they bullied and lied into selling them the houses and lots. Will Guilderland charge them for the streets on behalf of the taxpayer who paid for those streets? We will have to discuss all that.
Town, Costco developers win appeal, overcoming legal obstacle – July 10, 2021
Save the Pine Bush lawsuit, which is a seperate proceeding from the Hart v. Guilderland continues. The SPB case was being held pending a ruling on the first case.
Appeals court in Guilderland-Pyramid lawsuit allows case to cut the line – Altamont Enterprise – February 15, 2021
GUILDERLAND — The judge overseeing the town of Guilderland and Pyramid Management Group’s appeal to reverse a lower court’s decision that stopped construction of the company’s Rapp Road and Western Avenue projects has agreed to a request for “an expedited briefing schedule on this appeal.” The order from Justice Christine M. Clark of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department means that both sides are to have all of their paperwork filed before March 11.
Save the Pine Bush files Second lawsuit over Guilderland Planning Board’s approval of Pyramid project – December 2020
A week after a judge in Albany County Supreme Court ruled in favor of a group of Westmere residents and a Guilderland gas-station owner who were seeking to stop construction of a 222-unit development on Rapp Road and proposed Costco Wholesale store, a not-for-profit organization has filed a lawsuit over the same projects.
Save the Pine Bush is bringing the suit based on the Guilderland Planning Board’s August adoption of the findings statement for Pyramid’s Rapp Road and Western Avenue projects, as well as the October site-plan approval given to the company’s apartment and townhome development — an approval that was given based on the findings statement.
A findings statement is part of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process and is prepared after a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) has been filed but before the lead agency makes its final determination about an action or project.
The Residents and the Pine Bush Win Against Pyramid – Justice Prevails – Nov/Dec 2020 Newsletter
In an astonishing, detailed, and carefully written decision, Judge Peter Lynch handed a victory to Westmere Terrace residents and a gas-station owner, the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the Town of Guilderland Planing Board and Pyramid Management Group.
The decision makes null and void all of the approvals the Planning Board gave to Pyramid for its proposed development project known as the “Rapp Road Residential/Western Avenue Mixed Use Redevelopment Projects. This is a significant victory for the residents, for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, and for the environment. The 77-page decision by Judge Lynch is well worth reading.
Read the Court’s November 2020 decision here (Adobe Acrobat PDF):
THOMAS HART, LISA HART, KEVIN MCDONALD,SARAH MCDONALD, 1667 WESTERN AVENUE, LLCAnd RED-KAP SALES, INC., Petitioners, -against- TOWN OF GUILDERLAND, PLANNING BOARD AND ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF GUILDERLAND, PYRAMIDMANAGEMENT GROUP, LLC, RAPP ROAD DEVELOPMENT, LLC and CROSSGATES RELEASCO,LLC,Respondents. INDEX NO. 906179-20 (November 20, 2020)
Save the Pine Bush Files an Amicus Brief in the Pyramid Lawsuit – April/May 2020 Newsletter
ALBANY, NY: Todd Ommen from the Pace Environmental Ligation Clinic representing Save the Pine Bush, filed an amicus brief in March in the case known as Thomas Hart, Lisa hart, Kevin Mcdonald, Sarah Mcdonald, 1667 Western Avenue, LLC and Red-Kap Sales, Inc., v. Town of Guilderland, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals of Guilderland, Pyramid Management Group, LLC, Rapp Road Development, LLC and Crossgates Releaseco, LLC (Hart v. Guilderland),
Hart v. Guilderland was filed by attorney James Bacon. Last November, in a lengthy and scathing decision by Supreme Court Judge Peter A. Lynch, the approval for a proposed development by Pyramid in the Pine Bush consisting of apartments, town houses and a Costco by the Town of Guilderland Planning Board was declared null and void.
Pyramid and the Town appealed Judge Lynch’s decision to the New York State Appellate Division in January. Save the Pine Bush’s amicus supports Judge Lynch’s detailed and excellent decision finding that the Town of Guilderland Planning Board did not take a “hard look” during the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQRA) process.
See the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Town of Guilderland website:
Save the Pine Bush’s comments on the DEIS
Here are Save the Pine Bush’s comments written by Christopher M. Walker, , Legal Intern appearing pursuant to the Practice Order of Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, Inc.
Download all the documents in a zipped file.
Additional comments by other Save the Pine Bush members
Contribute to the fight! Your donations help fund the scientists who are documenting the unique nature of these lands: RappRoadGoFundMe.org
Description of the Project:
The Town of Guilderland Planning Board should reject the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed development by Pyramid (Crossgates) to build massive apartment complexes, office space and expansive retail on Rapp Road, the Mall Road and Western Avenue. This proposed development includes a Costco with 700 car parking lot and a gas station.
The Town of Guilderland Planning Board should remove itself as lead agency because it illegally allowed alteration of the site during the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) review by permitting a wooded lot to be clear-cut of its trees on March 26, 2020.
The following are not adequately addressed in (DEIS):
The proposed development borders the Pine Bush Preserve and the proposed development is completely within the boundaries of the Pine Bush study area. The Albany Pine Bush is considered the best example of an inland pine barrens ecosystem in the world. The Pine Bush contains 78 wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including the federal and state-endangered Karner blue butterfly) and state-threatened frosted elfin butterfly, and the largest inland sand dune system in eastern North America. The site has been designated a National Natural Landmark, a National Heritage Area Site, a NYS Bird Conservation Area and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area. Appendices F and G in the DEIS are inadequate to evaluate the impact of the proposed development on the plant and animal species in the Pine Bush.
This Pine Bush habitat is threatened by the proposed development, whether it is adjacent to the construction or a few hundred feet away. These species are important not only to the Pine Bush, but to the local ecosystem as well. The cumulative impact of this development plus other proposals on the Pine Bush is not adequately addressed in the DEIS.
The world is experiencing the sixth major extinction. The mitigation measures offered in the DEIS are inadequate to address the destruction of 46 acres of land. The proposed development decreases the size of the Pine Bush and the mitigation measures offer no possibility for expanding the habitat.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is woefully incomplete because it does not adequately address the effect this massive development would have on the ecosystem of the Pine Bush, or the effect on plant and animal the species.
Comments on the DEIS were due to the Planning Board by Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 4:30 PM
The DEIS is so long, what should I read?
Read the letter Pyramid/Crossgates sent to the Planning Board on what they are offering in exchange for being allowed to build.
Read the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. It is not that long.
Read comments from SEQRA agencies.
Read comments from non-SEQRA agencies, including the Chamber of Commerce.